If you really, honestly, truly think that the unwashed masses had better access to their representatives in an any era, you aren't quite as old as you state.
Congress has NEVER been afraid of its constituents - largely because voters had no real idea of how laws were made. They had the idealized Civics class version which made it sound like everybody was in agreement all of the time - just one big happy family there on Capitol Hill. Disagreements? Never discussed. How money was spread about between states to ease passage of controversial bills? Not a word. People were completely isolated from it and happy to be so. Honestly, do you really think that there would have been a Moon program if the discussion was available outside of Congress? Would the Civil Rights Act have been passed if the details of how Lyndon Johnson made each Congressmen an "offer they couldn't refuse" was on the daily news? If you want to look even earlier, the graft behind the creation of Transcontinental Railroad makes Enron look like rolling a kid for their lunch money. Did the public know about that? Even if they did, do you think that they would have cared?
Between blogs, traditional media and social media, people today have an unprecedented level of information about what goes on in Congress and what their Congresspeople do. America hasn't withered - life is more complex than any time in our history and rather than discussing it, we've chosen to hide from it. People have always chosen what they do with their franchise - we now choose to sit back and whine.